Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Most Fancy Event

In "Paper Roses", I mentioned that we would be attending a "fancy dress party". And now we have, at the 2012 Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860's Conference, held this past weekend in Harrisburg, PA.

The conference has always included dinner and entertainment on Saturday evening; in recent year's this has expanded to include dancing, this year in fancy dress.

The Victorian's loved to play dress-up, and fancy dress balls were very popular, images and descriptions even appeared in the various lady's magazines:

Costumes were frequently made by adding "stuff" to an already existing garment, which could create some interesting anachronisms, such as a Pilgrim in a hoop skirt:

Historical characters were a popular choice, such as Queen Victoria and her medieval knight: 

Or George and Martha Washington:

During the 1860's, some people could have raided Grandma's trunk from the attic for a historical costume, but it appears that some of our attendees reenact multiple time periods - costumes of the past were quite popular at this event:

A few fictional characters also made an appearance, here's Madame Defarge (and I'm not sure she ever stopped knitting, even during dinner!):

And Morgan Le Faye:

An alternative persona is always a possibility, like this "Saucy Servant":

Or these noble Italians:


Objects can be fun, here's a pair of china dolls:

Allegorical themes are among the most popular and creative, they often involve puns or jokes based on popular culture. Here's "Eve":

A bee and the beekeeper:

"The Four Seasons" (minus 1, x2):


Yes, the short skirts are appropriate - with fancy dress, some of the normal rules of dress disappear. Perhaps that's part of the appeal for these parties?

I loved this one, a "Secessionista"!

"The Evening Star"

And a very rare event - a photo of myself I'm willing to post!!! (I don't photograph well at all) I'm "A Rose Garden"; I added a velvet "apron trellis" to an existing evening dress, as well as five dozen white roses and an abundance of velvet leaves - now you know why I was researching paper roses. In addition, there are velvet butterflies, beaded dragonflies and a gilt and enamel bee "en tremblant". Robin is "The Thorn Amongst  the Roses" - we just tacked some large fabric thorns (one of which has pierced someone) on his suit and he also has a ribbon and rose cockade on his label. Very few people figured out his concept, but they loved it when we told them. One lady did suggest that he was representing "The Thorn in my Side"!

I can't imagine how much time goes into running this incredible conference - it must be just endless! But Carolann, Don and all her assistants pull it off every year.

This year, Carolann and Don received a little surprise, to express thanks for all they do, at dinner. Carolann was named an official Goddess - Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, of household arts and crafts, of spinning and weaving, of textiles. Inventor of the flute, the plough and the ox-yoke, the horse bridle and the chariot. Athena, goddess of war, guardian of Athens, the city named for her; defender of heroes, champion of justice and civil law.

She was crowned with a tiara (by Queen Victoria, no less), received an embroidered sash and flowers - and I think she was truly surprised.

We also were witnesses at a knighting, that of "Sir Don of the 'Burg"!

I was so impressed by the creativity shown in assembling all the outfits - we all looked fabulous!


  1. You all looked fabulous, indeed! A night to remember, and I love your ensemble - gorgeous gown, how wonderful it must have been to wear such a stunning creation (and be admired in it!) Bravo!

  2. You look lovely! What fun... I have always wanted to go to the conference, but haven't had the chance yet. Some day!

  3. Oh Kelly! I think your picture is just lovely. I understand what you mean about it though. I love your costume. I'm all there! What a fabulous time that must have been! Love it! We have gatherings for all of our creative past times, how fun! I am a lover of the Victorian age myself. I grew up in a large Eastlake style Victorian home in Charlotte, here in Michigan. I loved my huge bedroom and the fact that we had two staircases!
    I sent you a picture of the bracelet I made with the pennies you got for me! It will be posted on Etsy next week. If you can, go check out my FB page "Yadasi Beads" is my FB name.Many other beaders in my bead network world are also getting involved! So glad you "collaborate" with me to make the bracelet happen! HUGS!! Sharon Wagner